The for-profit college industry is seeking to create the appearance of popular support to influence regulations that would end their ability to force students to acquire excessive loans.
Take the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, owned by Educational Management Corporation (EDMC), for example who is buying pizza for students to persuade them to influence the regulatory process.
The Department of Education proposed regulations in March that would tighten policies toward for-profit colleges which derive the majority of their revenue from student loans. The gainful employment rule would terminate aid to programs that force students to take loans they cannot pay back and do not prepare them for the workforce.
A public comment period opened March 27 during which individuals can voice their opinion on the proposed rule.
To create the appearance of opposition, the management of EDMCâ€™s Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale asked that students: â€œStop by the library all week between 12-1 and 5-6 to sign in to Save Student Choice and enjoy a free piece of Pizza. Takes 5 minutes.â€
What college student doesn’t love a free pizza party?
And EDMC has reason to want to pamper their students with free pizza while they take an evaluation survey.
EDMC is under investigation by the Department of Justice and several State Attorneys General for accusations of fraud. In December, EDMC agreed to a $3.4 million settlement with the Attorney General of Colorado stemming from complaints they falsely advertised the accreditation of their psychology program. That lack of accreditation prevented students from finding full-time jobs in the field.
Corinthian College, which is also under investigation for aggressive recruiting techniques, is attempting to astroturf support by prodding its staff and student body to comment on the rule by directing traffic to a website they created.
The trade association for the industry, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (ASPCU), has been zealously lobbying Capitol Hill as part of their exertion of influence those making legislation.
The deadline to comment on the rule is May 27.